‘n KYKIE DEUR DIE BRIL VAN ONS VADER

Vandag wil ek graag ‘n paar gedagtes deel waaraan ek veral gister baie gedink het na aanleiding van ‘n WhatsApp boodskap wat reeds Saterdag gestuur is, maar wat ek eers gister gelees het. Die persoon wat dit oorspronklik gestuur het, het lesers gemaan om asseblief nie gehoor te gee aan die beroep wat op Suid-Afrikaners gedoen was om op Maandag, 30 Oktober swart te dra ter gedagtenis aan die boere wat sedert 1994 vermoor is nie. Dit sou volgens daardie persoon perfek in die duiwel se plan val omdat hierdie tydperk op ‘n okkultiese feestyd val.

Hierdie is nie ‘n produk van ‘n reeds-gevormde opinie wat ek gehad het direk nadat ek die boodskap gelees het nie, maar het ontstaan uit dinge wat ek persoonlike ervarings wat aanleiding gegee het tot die gedagtes wat by my opgekom het. Op hulle beurt het die gedage my aan sekere Skrifgedeetes my herinner wat ek dan ook gaan naslaan het om seker te maak van my feite voordat ek sommer net blindelings gevolgtrekkings maak.

Ek dink dat ons Hemelse Vader in ‘n sekere sin mense sien soos wat fisies gestremde (of blinde) mense na hulle kyk. Op universiteit het ek geleer dat ‘n mens nooit ‘n stelling moet maak as jy dit nie kan bewys nie, so kom ek vertel jou hoe ek daarby uitgekom het deur vir jou die vraag te vra wat uiteindelik gemaak het dat ek hierdie artikel skryf: wat was die heel eerste gedagte wat by jou opgekom het toe jy gitter iemand gesien het met swart klere aan? Wat dink jy as jy vandag op 31 Oktober iemand in swart geklee sien? Watter indruk skep dit by jou? Vertel dit vir jou iets omtrent die persoon se geloofsoortuigings of gebrek aan kennis, of selfs hul politieke oortuigings? Het jy gister ‘n gevoel van patriotisme beleef omdat daardie persoon daardeur sy/haar meegevoel, protes of hartseer oor die slagoffers van die miljuisende plaasmoorde sedert 1994 betoon? Het dit jou laat glo dat daardie persoon “‘n regsgesinde, wit Afrikaner” is of net heeltemal onkundig oor geestelike dinge is? Dalk was jy eerder teleurgesteld, hartseer, of self bekommerd omdat jy daarvan oortuig is dat diegene wat wel gister swart aangetrek het vir daardie rede, onwetend in die duiwel se plan ingeloop het omdat dit op ‘n okkultiese feesdag val?

My eerlike antwoord? Ek het nie gister of vandag iemand gesien wat swart aangehad het nie, alhoewel ek weet van een persoon wat dit gister gedoen het om uitdrukking te gee aan sy gevoelens oor die slagoffers van plaasmoorde. Ek het niemand met swart gesien nie, want ek kan nie … My hele lewe lank was my fisiese sig nie wat dit moet wees nie.

Daarom weet ek eerstehands dat blindes nie mense oordeel op grond van dit wat sigbaar is vir die blote oog nie, soos byvoorbeeld die kleur van die klere wat hulle aanhet of die styl waarvolgens hulle aangetrek is. Die rede hiervoor is vanselfsprekend: hulle fisiese gebrek aan sig laat dit nie toe nie. Al wat hulle kan waarneem, is mense se stemtoon wanneer hulle praat, woorde en dade, maar hulle kan nie sien hoe mense fisies lyk nie.

Mense met sig kan die dade sien en die woorde hoor wat uitgevoer of geuiter word, maar in werklikheid kan die mens nie, slegs met behulp daarvan, tot ‘n korrekte beslissing kom oor die goedheid of boosheid daarvan nie omdat hulle ten dele ken.

Daar is dus dade wat goed lyk vir mense omdat hulle slegs dit kan waarneem wat hulle fisies kan sien, terwyl Abba Vader sommige van daardie “goeie” dade skerp veroordeel en verag omdat hy, anders as die mensdom, ten volle ken en Alwetend is.

Anders as blindes sien ons Vader alles raak. Die Bybel leer ons keer op keer dat Hy elkeen se hart en gedagtes deurgrond en ken. Hy is heeltemal vertroud met jou fisiese en emosionele behoeftes, voorkoms, en kondisie. Hy weet van alle aktiwiteite, aanwinste, en verliese. Hy het elke haar wat jy in jou hele lewe verloor of bygekry het, gesien uitkom of uitval.

Jou denke, doen en late, en die motiewe agter elke klein of groot woordjie of daad, is vir Hom geen geheim nie. Ons kan mense bluf, maar ons sal ver tweede kom as ons Hom probeer bluf!

Vat nou maar die storie oor die offerandes van die arm weduwee en die Fariseers as voorbeeld. Die weduwee het net twee muntstukkies as offerande gebring terwyl die Skrifgeleerdes baie geld gebring het.

Op die oog af het dit gelyk asof die Skrifgeleerdes hulle deel doen en die weduwee nie haar kant bring nie. Jesus se dissipels en ander wat teenwoordig was het die waarde van die offerandes van die arm weduwee en die Fariseers gemeet en beoordeel volgens dit wat hulle met die blote oog kon sien en tot die verkeerde gevolgtrekkings gekom: Die Skrifgeleerdes en Fariseers beroof God nie omdat hulle hul tiendes getrou betaal. Hulle is die tipiese blymoedige gewers wanneer dit by offerandes kom. Dit is waarom dit so goed met hulle gaan en GGod hulle so ryklik seen.

Aan die ander kant gee die weduwee net twee muntstukkies. Sy betaal nie haar tiendes nie en is ook nie ‘n blymoedige gewer nie. Dit moet die rede vir haar armoede wees! Sy het haar armoede oor haarself gebring.

Jesus het egter ALLE ooglopende en nie-ooglopende faktore in ag geneem voordat Hy Sy behoorlik ingeligte inset oor die ware stand van sake gelewer het. Hy het geweet dat die weduwee arm was en in haar armoede alles gegee het wat sy gehad het terwyl die Skrifgeleerdes maar net ‘n bietjie van die baie gegee het wat hulle gehad het.

So ook het Jesus op ‘n keer, toe Hy besig was om met Sy dissippels en die skare te praat oor die dinge wat die Fariseers gedoen het wat Hom dwars in die krop gesteek het (Matt. 23), beklemtoon dat dit nie die goud van die tempel of die offergawes op die altaar is wat die grootste is nie, maar wel die tempel en die altaar wat daardie dinge heilig. Hy het die Fariseers as “blinde gidse” uitgemaak omdat hulle die Here se volk anders geleer het (Matt. 23:16-22). Nadat Hy Sy punt daaroor gemaak het, leer Hy ons dat die een wat by die hemel sweer, by God se troon sweer en by die Een wat daarop sit (vers 23).

Ek is daarvan oortuig dat die beginsel wat Paulus vir ons in Romeine 14 neerle, te doen het met die feit dat uiterlike voorkoms nie altyd dit wat in die hart aangaan reflekteer nie. Die indruk wat die mens kry deur na goeie dade, mooi woorde, en die manier waarop mense aantrek te kyk om vir hom/haarself te bewluit of daardie persoon ‘n goeie of slegte ding doen of ‘n kind van die Here is of nie, is dus nie altyd reg en waar nie.

‘n Kind van God mag nou wel mense BINNE die liggaam van Christus beoordeel op grond van seksuele of ander sondige gedrag waarvan jy weet omdat ‘n bietjie suurdeeg die hele ongesuurde brood sal bederf (sien 1 Kor. 5:1-8), maar Paulus vermaan die kerk in Romeine hoofstuk 14 om nie op mekaar neer te sien of te veroordeel op grond van onbenullighede soos dit wat ons eet of drink, die heiliging van dae en tye, of enige ander kwessie wat niks te doen het met God se koningkryk nie.

Die klem van die handel en wandel van iemand wat deur die Heilige Gees gelei word, is nie veronderstel om te val op uiterlike voorkoms opsigself nie, maar moet val op ‘n lewensstyl wat nie iemand anders wat in Christus is, laat struikel en God se werk sal vernietig ter wille van onder andere voedsel of die gedenk/heiliging van dae en weiering om dit te doen nie. God is Gees; dus val die klem van die aanbidding van en in die geestelike op geestelike dinge soos gerigtigheid, vrede, en vreugde in die Heilige gees. Ons moet dus daardie dinge najaag wat lei tot vrede en dit wat mekaar sal opbou.

As enige iemand wat in Christus is, iemand anders wat ook in Christus is, laat struikel net om ‘n punt te bewys deur dit wat ons eet of drink, of die dae wat ons heilig of nie heilig nie, wandel ons nie in liefde nie. Die wat ‘n dag gedenk of heilig, doen dit vir God en nie vir ander nie. Diegene wat weier om ‘n sekere dag te gedenk of heilig, doen dit ook vir God se onthalwe en nie vir die mens nie.

Ons lewe en sterwe tot Hom. Daarom sal elkeen van ons aan Hom verantwoording doen.

Hierdie beginsel is vir ons slegte en goeie nuus. Die slegte nuus is dat, as ‘n mens iemand op grond van sulke dinge beoordeel, jy jouself in ‘n plek of posisie stel wat jou nie toekom nie en met dinge bemoei wat nie jou besigheid is nie. Die goeie nuus, wat opmaak vir die slegte nuus, is dat, as ons aan Hom behoort, bly ons Syne, Ongeag mense se opinies en gevolgtrekkings of watter dae mense heilig of nie heilig nie, of wat hulle eet of drink of weier om te eet of drink.

As ons hierdie beginsel op die praktyk toepas, beteken dit dat, as iemand wat swart klere aantrek iemand anders wat weier om dit te doen, veroordeel, speel daardie persoon God. As iemand wat weier om swart klere aan te trek ander mense oordeel omdat hulle dit wel doen, speel so ‘n persoon ook God.

As die Heilige Gees in jou woon, behoort jy aan Hom, ongeag watter datum dit gister was, vandag is, of die volgende dag sal wees. Jy bly Sy kind, al het jy gister of vandag swart, wit, rooi, grys, bont, of watter kleur klere aangetrek op ‘n okkultiese feesdag.

As iemand dus werklik die hulp van die lewende God soek en om daardie rede gister of vandag swart aangetrek het, heilig hy/sy mos nie die dag aan Satan nie. God weet wat waar is. Jesus is die waarheid. Die Gees van Waarheid, wat groter is as hy wat in die wereld is, woon in die wat in Hom is en Hom aangeneem het, en dus die mag het om Sy kinders genoem te word.

Dit bring my terug na my stelling dat die Here en blindes tot ‘n mindere mate iets met mekaar in gemeen het as dit kom by die beoordeling en evaluering van mense. Vir blindes het die indruk wat hulle van mense het, absolutt niks te make met hul fisiese voorkoms nie. Vir ons Hemelse Vader het jou verhouding met Hom en die manier waarop Hy oor jou dink en na jou kyk, ook hoegenaamd niks te doen met jou uiterlike voorkoms nie.

Alhoewel daar ‘n aansienlike groot verskil is tussen die rede waarom Gode en blindes onderskeidelik nie op die uiterlike ingestel is nie, is die rede daarvoor steeds gekoppel aan hul onderskeie kondisies. Dit is die blindheid van blindes wat hulle in staat stel om nie op die sigbare staat te maak wanneer hulle mense beoordeel of evalueer nie. Dit is juis God se geestelike aard wat Hom in staat stel om VERBY dit wat sigbaar is, te kyk.

Omdat ek blind is maak dit nie vir my saak watter kleur mense op watter dag dra nie. Dit is die rede daarvoor wat tel en uiteindelik van geestelike waarde is.

Gesien vanuit hierdie perspektief (of deur hierdie bril), dink ek regtig dat die kleur en kondisie van jou geestelike klere baie meer vir God saakmaak as jou fisiese klere. Solank jou geestelike klere nie swart is nie, is dit nie vir Hom ‘n probleem as jy gedurende ‘n okkultiese feesgety in swart geklee is nie.

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EVEN THE DEMONS TREMBLE

I have so many ideas as to the next blog entry I’d like to post. I have so many things to talk about. Yet, it’s as if I can’t bring myself to write them down, not because I’m lazy, but because I’m overwhelmed by the urge to share with you a post which I’ve written some moons ago when I still blogged with thoughts.com. I had to let go blogging there, because for some reason, I couldn’t get into my site …

Since I blogged there by first saving my entries as Word documents and then pasting the content into the edit field for the body text of the entry, I still have the content with me today. However, I had to make some amendments to the original to provide for the lapse in time, but here’s what I wrote and what I’d like to share from that time today.

The following story was sent to me in Afrikaans via Whatsapp years ago, and because it made me think of certain passages in Scripture which, in turn, caused me to read other Bible passages with the same theme, I just cannot help sharing it!

Once upon a timelived a Christian old lady who was so poor that she had to rely on the community for donations of food, clothes, and other groceries. The local Christian radio station knew about her circumstances and would regularly ask churches and others who were into charity for donations. It so happened that a devoted atheist heard about it and decided to trick the old lady. He called the radio station, asked them for her residential address, and requested his secretary to purchase some groceries and food and then to deliver it to the old lady with the following instruction:- “If the old lady enquires about the identity of the donor, tell her that it was sent to her by the devil.” Arriving at the old lady’s residence, the secretary could tell from its appearance that its inhabitant was severely poor, so she wasn’t surprised when the donation was received with great joy and gratitude. However, she was surprised when the old lady started to pack all the groceries away without enquiring about the identity of the donor.

After a few moments, the atheist’s secretary asked the old lady if she was curious to hear who sent her all these groceries, to which the old lady responded (wisely and calmly):- “No, child, that doesn’t matter, because even the devil obeys God’s orders just because God has spoken.”

Having read this story, I remembered something in the Bible about the devils fearing and trembling, and I also remembered that it was somewhere in the book of James, but I wasn’t sure of the context of this verse. So I typed in “James 1” and read this book until I found what I was looking for:

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

The apostle James wrote this in the context of faith without works, making the point that it doesn’t help to confess with your tongue that you believe in God when your deeds don’t show it, so it means nothing if your brother or sister is hungry or needy, and you say, “God bless you” without even attempting to do something about his/her situation.

This verse, in turn, reminded me of Something Jesus said to the seventy people whom he sent to minister to the Jews in His name after their return when they reported to Him that the devils are subject to them when they did something in His name:

“I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20)

Now, the reader has to understand one thing very clearly, which is that, if the story about the poor lady and the atheist is true, then neither the atheist nor his secretary in the story as told above is the devil, ok?It should not be our aim to make those who are in the world and who refuse to believe in Christ the object of our struggles with their arguments and the things they say and do to us in the name of liberation, freedom or reason. God loves the world (John 3:16), and not only did Jesus atone on the cross for the sins of those who believe in him, but also for the sins of the whole world! However, Satan is described as the Prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and Paul wrote that it is this way with the minds of those people because the god of this world has blinded their minds (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

It is for this reason that we are told in at least two New Testament passages that the war of Christians are not against people, neither are their weapons of warfare the same as the weapons of the world.

“For though we walk in the flesh (live in the world), we do not war after the flesh (wage war as the world does). For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (or the weapons of the world), but mighty through God (or they have divine power) to the pulling down of (or demolish) strong holds; Casting down imaginations (arguments or reasonings) and every high thing (or pretention) that exalteth itself (sets itself up) against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of (make it obedient to) Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:3-5)

The following points are made very clear by the apostle Paul as we read this passage concerning the weapons of Christians:

1. People who are in Christ do not wage war in the same manner as those who are in the world, or else our warfare is carnal (fleshly) and cannot please God.
2. The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal or typically human and/or secular, but are mighty or powerful only through God.
3. We have to use our spiritual weapons to demolish strong holds.
4. Our weapons have to cast down any argument or pretention which seems to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. An example of such an argument or pretencion can be found in Isaiah 14:13-14 where Satan’s attitude towards God while he was in heaven is addressed.
5. We have to imprison every thought, in other words, subject each thought in such a way that it is obedient to Christ.

Elsewhere, Paul wrote:

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)

Here, Paul makes it very clear that we do not wrestle against people, but against things that can’t be seen or observed in the physical realm.

It’s hard to do so, especially if the things said and done to you make you feel the painful sting that often accompanies mockery and rejection, but at least, the following can and does serve as comfort:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21)

In conclusion, I’d like to add that, if the atheists secretary asked the old lady in our story if she would have accepted a donation of groceries if she knew that the devil was the donor, then she could have responded that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

Wow! So it is indeed true that even the devil has to submit to God! I also find it hilarious that God can use people with ill intentions to accomplish His will, even if they mean to do evil!

TEAR BOTTLES AND BOOKS

No matter where you are in the world, it’s common knowledge that there are different kinds of bottles: glass bottles, plastic bottles, and so on. Then people label bottles according to their contents, for example, if you hear the term “coke bottle”, you know that it’s a bottle in which coke is (or has been) packaged. You also get water bottles which you take with you to the gym (if you gym) or which has to go in your pre-schoolers bag for the pre-school he/she attends in which water is poured for use during the time of the stay there.. And then, according to the Bible, there’s also such a thing as tear bottles! Did you know that?

In a secular sense, tear-shedding is often used as a therapeutical means to rid yourself of bottled-up negative emotions such as sadness, frustration, anger, and the like. Some use it as an effective tool to manipulate others to get from them the reaction they want, taking advantage of the love and soft nature of others, and there are some who firmly believe that weeping shows weakness.

As for me, although I feel better after having a good cry and laughing after that seems to me like sunshine after the rain, I don’t cry to get what I want, neither do I believe that crying is always a bad thing. I’m one of those who believe in a good cry every once in awhile. It really has done wonders for me in the past!

When it comes to spiritual life and meditation, I don’t know about you, but I have cried many tears privately, especially when talking to my Creator about something that really upsets me or when I’m expressing a desire to God by means of prayer. There’s not just one thing that can result in a tearful prayer; many things may give you reason to shed tears when you talk to God, and among these reasons are:

Tears of remorse/regret/shame for what’s been done;
Tears of joy;
Tears of supplication;
Tears of utter gratitude or thankfulness;
Tears of awe and wonder;
Tears of grief, pain or sadness;
Tears of compassion;
Tears of disappointment;
Or tears simply because words aren’t enough to express your heart to God.

From Scripture I only used to know that God sees our tears, or else, the Bible would not have said that there will be an end to the time of tears for those who suffered great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, because God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There won’t be any need anymore to cry tears of compassion, supplication, sadness, regret/remorse, and the like, because things such as sorrow, death, crying, or pain, and the like will be non-existent and all things will be made new. I don’t think that there will even be room for tears of joy, gratitude, awe, or tears due to the lack of men to express their heart to God, because God will dwell among them and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

But, to be quite honest, this alone wasn’t enough to comfort me. Yes, I believe that, if you pray to God and believe He is there, He hears your prayers and will answer, even though we may not always like the answer. However, I have often wondered: are the tears we cry just body fluid that gets wiped off by tissues and that lands up in the dust bin? Are they really just part of the time when they pour down our faces? Is the hope that there will someday be no more tears the only comfort we have in this life, or could it be possible that there’s more to it?

Because I couldn’t seem to find an answer to these questions and be comforted by the hope in the belief that there will be a time of zero tears in future, I used to believe (without having any Scripture to starve my belief) that a prayer filled with many tears and only a few words has more value to God than a prayer with many words but no tears.

Then, yesterday morning, I read Psalm 56. As I read it, I was praying that Scripture over my husband as he is currently working his last month’s notice, and some of his colleagues, (or one in, particular), really seem to watch his every move so they can have something to say against him to score more points with the CEO for biting his back and getting him into trouble.

To those of you who acknowledge that there is such a thing as spiritual warfare, I recommend that you read this Psalm the next time it seems as if you (or someone with whom you happen to fellowship) are constantly being attacked by people around you whose only aim seems to be to find something against you so they can get you into trouble. That’s because in that Psalm, David talks about slanderers pursuing him all day long, attacking him in their pride by always twisting his words and plotting to harm him.

But anyway, returning to the subject of what I read and prayed, I was reading the Psalm out loud, and then I would pause after each verse to reflect on it. I remember specifically praying that my husband’s first reflex at the moment he becomes aware of the attack against him must be to trust in God’s Word, not fearing whatever men can do to him, no matter what happens.

Then, verse 8 in particular got my attention, and I admit that I reflected a lot longer on that specific verse than all the others in that Psalm. In the King James Version, it reads: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

Wait, I thought to myself. Let’s stop the bus right here and now! What’s this thing about tears in bottles and books? How can they be in both at the same time? What do other English translations say in the same verse?

Remember now, English is NOT my first language, so I had to turn to other English translations that are easier to read and to which I have access, so I consulted the NIV first, because although NIV is most definitely not my first choice when I have to read the Bible in English, it has often helped me to understand what’s being said on a level suitable for second language readers.

Verse 8 in the last-mentioned translation reads: “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll {Or [put my tears in your wineskin]} — are they not in your record?”

Except for helping me to understand that the term “wanderings” as used in the King James Version doesn’t mean to go astray, but that it refers to lamenting, the part where “bottle” is translated to mean “whineskin” had me a little confused, so I closed NIV and consulted the Young’s Literal Translation, which is a much more literal translation of the Bible, and where verse 8 reads: “My wandering Thou hast counted, Thou — place Thou my tear in Thy bottle, Are they not in Thy book?” Again the references to tears being placed in a bottle and a book.

Thus, from the study I’ve done on this in my capacity as a lay person who makes mistakes but desires to be a difference-maker and not being a theologian who studied for years and who may have expert knowledge as to the correctness of the way in which the Hebrew texts were translated, I take this verse to mean that God indeed takes note of each and every prayer made, more specially so if tears are involved. Physically, we feel the tears flowing down our faces when we tearfully pray, and we use tissues or something alike to remove all traces of our crying so that we may look better, but also so that others don’t see that we’ve cried. And when we cry before people, the only thing they can really do is to help us clean our faces and give us advice as to how to proceed when having to deal with toxic people in life.

Yet, in another unseen dimention, something so unbelievably amazing and astonishing happens to the tears we cry while talking to God. Not only does God take note of our lamentations; our tears are captured in bottles, and records are being kept of our lamentations! This means that we don’t have to feel guilty about crying because we think we’re spending our time in an unproductive way when we cry, because our tears are being packaged in bottles, and our lamentations to God are being recorded. Wow!That’s, good news worth sharing indeed!
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